Community Group Study Notes
-Read 2 Corinthians 5:16 again. What does it mean that we no longer regard people from a worldly point of view? How does the Gospel change our view of others?
-How can we engage in the mission of reconciliation? What will that look like in everyday life for you?
-Why is it important that we represent Jesus and His Kingdom in the midst of our culture? What should this look like?
-What is one action step you can take with what you heard in Sunday’s message?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! -2 Corinthians 5:17
Good morning, Chapel family. We've got a special treat for us all today because we have a guest speaker, Dr. Ed Stetzer. Now, Ed has done a lot with his life. He has pastored churches and planted churches and you may hear about that in just a moment. He's currently serving as one of the teaching pastors at Moody Church in Chicago. He's also highly educated. Ed has two master's degrees, two doctorates, and he writes for Christianity Today. He's published over 15 books and he's also the director for the Billy Graham Center and the dean of the School of Mission and Leadership at Wheaton College.
But even with all of these things that he has done in his life, one of the things that I'm really appreciative of with Ed is that he is using his national voice for purposes that we all can embrace. Ed calls the church to unity and calls the church to mission. He's a man who stands for the truth. Ed has no problem being able to speak truth to power or just as easily, being able to speak well of the powerful when they are standing on the side of truth. So I'm grateful that we have an intelligent, reasonable, Godly type of man who is using his national voice for the purposes of the kingdom of God and the mission of God in our nation and in our world.
It's a real pleasure to have him here at The Chapel and I hope you, Chapel family, will join me in giving a big welcome to Dr. Ed Stetzer.
[Dr. Ed Stetzer]
Well, I would like to thank my mother for sending along that intro for Pastor Jerry to give. She's very proud and I appreciate you reading exactly what she asked you to say. Good to see you. Thank you again for the invitation, Pastor. I appreciate that so much. Good to be here in Buffalo. I say that intentionally because I actually used to live in Buffalo, but we'll call it western New York.
Good to be here in western New York and to all of you worshiping with us here at our CrossPoint campus or Lockport and Cheektowaga and also those who are joining us on our broadcast on WKBW, which you may or may not know originally broadcast at 1420 Main Street in the city of Chicago from Churchill Tabernacle and WKBW used to stand for Well-Known Bible Witness. That was what it originally stand for when it was actually a Christian broadcast, a little fun, extra information for you. Yes, I had no Buffalo trivia. But anyway, that's another story for another day.
But I'm super glad to be here and share with you God's word. If you have a Bible, take it out, and turn with me to 2 Corinthians. 2 Corinthians chapter 5 is what we're going to look at today. Now, I love the fact that you're in this Calm Down series. What a great name of a series. Calm down. That's a lot of what we need today because a lot of people seem to be angry. Pastor Jerry's talked about things like slander. He's talked about things like anger. More and more just kind of walking through using Ephesians 4:31, walking through some of the things that have sort of captured our culture and really define our day.
People are mad and they're getting madder and I think they're going to keep getting madder and here's why. We're coming into a season when the division is growing, not declining. We have to decide what we're going to do. I don't know for sure it's going to get worse. I'm not a prophet. I'm not the son of a prophet and I work at a nonprofit organization. I can't say for sure that it's going to get that way, but it sure doesn't look so great as we're coming into seasons of politics and cultural divide and more. But we're not the first people living in a time like this.
Sometimes we think we'll have the only Christians that live in some difficult times. We're among them and others have been here before and part of that is why we chose our pastors today. 2 Corinthians chapter 5, I want to read it before we jump into it. It's not going to be on the screen. I just want you to listen as I read it.
It says this: "So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore if anyone's in Christ there's new creation. The old is gone, the new is here. All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf. Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God."
Here at the time when this letter's written, it's written to a church in a place called Corinth. It's one of more than one letter. It's one of several letters that Paul writes to the church and this is the second in the ones that we have. In 2 Corinthians, he's sort of admonishing or rebuking the church that perhaps they're not receiving him well and they're not representing Jesus well either. There's internal divisions in the church. We see that in chapter 11 and other places. But there's also a division between the church and the context around it.
As we talk about here around The Chapel, you talk about loving the world and what does it mean to love the church and love God. Well, there's a conflict in many ways between the church and the world and it was hard for them to love their community in part because of that conflict. So here in this second letter that we have, Paul rebukes them to represent Jesus and his kingdom well. I think this passage is going to be good for us because we live in a time of outrage. A lot of people are mad and upset at one another. I'm going to talk about that outrage and you want to calm down in an outraged world, I think you represent Jesus and his kingdom well.
We're going to do that by looking at four things today, four points as we walk through this passage. In doing so, I think each of them will build together to help us find a path to represent Jesus and his kingdom well in a world that's often filled with outrage. I'm convinced, if you want to break through, you want to calm down in the midst of an outraged world, the answer is to represent Jesus and his kingdom well. Let's go ahead and start by looking at number one on our outline. We get a new perspective, a new way of looking at things, a new way of understanding the world. We can join in the way the world understands and maybe in our world today, that's by political division. That's maybe by what new channel we watch.
That's maybe by who on social media we share or don't share. Or we can find a different way than the world's way, the way of Jesus we can see people differently by getting a new perspective. Let's look at the passage that helps us with that. Verse 16 says: "So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view." Now don't miss this. In other words, we're not going to look at anybody today from a worldly point of view. There's the world's way of doing it. We're going to do it a different way. From now on, we regard or we see or we view or we understand or we engage no one in a worldly way.
"Though we once regarded Christ in this way," we don't do that any more. "We do that no longer." Maybe we misunderstood who Jesus was and so we didn't understand who we was. Well, now we understand him. Then it goes on to say therefore. Whenever you see a therefore in the Bible, you want to ask what's it there for. Well, it's joining together the two passages. We don't see anyone in a purely human way. We don't say anybody or engage anyone in accordance with the world's way and the world's standards. But now, something's changed. "Therefore, if anyone's in Christ," common theme in these verses is in Christ. "If anyone's in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone. The new is here."
What we're finding here is that Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is actually saying to us, listen, part of the key is stop seeing one another. Stop seeing the world the way the world sees one another. Don't join in that way of viewing other people, but from now on, don't know anyone in a worldly way or a purely human way. It means by the world's standards. You see, but then you remember the therefore, if anyone's in Christ, there's new creation. New has come, the old is gone. If you're a follower of Jesus, you've been given new life in Christ. You're a new person. You're a new citizen of a new kingdom. Therefore if anyone's in Christ, there's new creation.
You have new life and that's tied together with you need to have a new look. You need to look at people differently. This new life has given us a new way to see the world, a new way to look at others, maybe new lenses through which we see the world. We know 1 Corinthians 7:31 reminds us that the world, the present form, it's actually passing away. So we ought not to be surprised when things become divisive or problematic or maybe when the world doesn't appreciate what Christians believe. That ought not to shock us. For while this world is passing away in its present form, well, God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit is causing men and women to be born again to receive new life.
New life is coming. Paul says that new life gives us a new look. We don't see anybody in a worldly way or in a purely human way. That new life has given us a new look and we have some supernatural lenses, if you will, through which we see the world. Now, I wear glasses. I wear glasses. When I was a kid, it wasn't cool to wear glasses. My 14-year-old daughter, I have three daughters. I have three daughters, all around their teenage years, which is both the statement of my reality and a desperate prayer request for intercession every day.
Yesterday I was on the radio and I was actually ... I get a text in the middle of ... I've got a radio show on Moody Radio, I get a text in the middle of it. It says, "Your" ... from my wife, Donna, "Your 16-year-old daughter just passed and she now has her own driver's license." I wanted to say on the radio, "Get your cars off the road, people. My daughter's driving." So you can pray for me for that. But my youngest daughter's 14. Her name's Caitlin and so Caitlin tells me now that they're actually getting glasses, kids, the cool kids. You want to be like the cool kids. But my daughter tells me that they're now getting glasses and they don't need prescriptions because it's cool to wear glasses in high school.
This is deeply bothersome to me, not because it's cool, it's because it wasn't cool when I was in high school. How many of you wear glasses? Raise your hand. All of our campuses, raise your hand. It was hard. See how quickly they put their hands down? "No, I don't want you to know. Don't call me four eyes." I got called that as a kid. I know. But also too, you remember? I used to wear glasses and read Marvel comics and neither were cool. Now, it appears everything I was a nerd for is now cool today. The world's not fair. So I didn't wear glasses because it was cool. I wore glasses, not for fashion, but for sight. If I want to see, I need to have my glasses on.
It's important because I want to see when I'm driving, when I'm talking, when I'm reading. But it's interesting too. Pastor mentioned I'm the interim teaching pastor of a church in Chicago, where I live now. It's called The Moody Church. It's kind of a well-known church, had famous pastors like Warren Wiersbe and Erwin Lutzer just recently or Harry Ironside. They're in a transition. Their former pastor has become pastor emeritus, retired to that. So I've been preaching there and one of the things that I had to learn very quickly is that everybody in the world thinks they own a part of Moody Church because in somewhere they've probably been there. They've probably visited the church. Or maybe they went to the school that's historically connected or whatever.
They just write me letters all the time when I'm preaching. Not all of them are awesome, but some of them are. For example, when I moved the pulpit and I brought in a TV like this because you could see more easily, I got get letters that suggested that that was not a good idea and I received those letters. But sometimes the letters are so awesome I save them. Sometimes they're so awesome I save them and I share them with you. One day I get this email. It comes through the Moody inbox and I get this email. Here's what it says. Well, let's take a look. This is unaltered. This is exactly how he wrote it and everything else.
"I listened to your August 13th sermon at Moody Church online." It was on Facebook or online. Great. People are listening. Praise God. "After listening to it once," which means he's listened twice. How awesome is that? Praise God. You love that. "I listened to it again because I was awestruck." I mean it gets even better. He's listened at least twice and he's awestruck, "With the number of times you adjusted your glasses while preaching." I'm like okay. Where is this going? "The second time," which to me implies there might have been a third time. "The second time I listened," which technically he wasn't listening, he was watching, "I saw in the first 36 minutes of your sermon," so he's gotten a timing device at this point, "you adjusted your glasses 74 times. And then you took them off, so I could count no further."
I like the way he writes. He could count no further. "This was an average of once every 30 seconds." He takes out a calculator and figured out how often I adjusted my glasses. "But keep in mind, that is an incomplete count because some of the times scripture or your sermon was on the screen and I could not see you." I'm not sure you were watching for the right reasons at that point anyway. "I tell you this in Christian love," which is how they all start. "I tell you this in Christian love because I know you're interested in being aware of anything that may distract listeners from hearing what you're preaching and teaching. So I hope you'll accept this knowing that I want your ministry to be as effective for Christ as possible."
And he signed his name, super nice guy actually. And I actually did make changes to how often I adjust my glasses. I bought a product I saw on Shark Tank called Nerd Wax. I don't get an endorsement fee for that. But I got this Nerd Wax. I put it on my glasses. They don't move as much. But I still do adjust my glasses. You're going to see it. Some of you are going to be immature and you're already planning now on counting how many times I touch my glasses so you can tell me on the way out. Don't do it. Listen to the message. I actually did make changes to this. But you know why I wear my glasses? I wear my glasses so I can see. Those of you who know when you wear glasses, you move around, it kind of slides forward and your focal length is all wrong now, so you gotta adjust your glasses so you can see.
Now here's the thing I want you to see. You see, we live in a world that a lot of people are seeing people as enemies, as adversaries. They're feeling free to say terrible things about people on social media that they'd never say something to them in person. They're feeling free to just blurt things or speak ill of others or be disgusted by other people. In the midst of all that, the Bible teaches, Paul says, "From now on, we no longer know anyone in a purely human way." So he calls us because we got a new life. We got a new look. We got new lenses through which we see the world and the problem is, as the world gets more and more angry, it's easier and easier to join in and you're going to have to remember to adjust your glasses.
He's given you supernatural lenses through which to see the world. Man, you gotta adjust them from time to time because it's too easy and too often we join in. Think about it, people are being discipled by their cable news network. People are being shaped by their engagement on social media. Eventually they sort of unfollow or mute or block all the people that they don't like. All they're doing is posting for people who agree with them and then it gets really vitriolic at times. They start posting things. I gotta tell you, I've seen Christians post some of the worst things I've ever seen on social media. They say, "Listen, I'm just telling the truth. You just gotta tell them. We gotta get the word out. We gotta spread this false news everywhere we could go. We gotta do this."
I just want to say to them, "No, you don't. You've got a new life. You need to take a new look and see people through a new lens." Because God is not honored when our social media simply reflects the social media of the world. Now, we gotta put on that new lens. You want to calm down in an outraged world. Choose to represent Jesus and his kingdom. Well, adjust those glasses well. So number one, we get a new perspective. Number two, we're sent on a mission. We're actually sent on a mission of reconciliation. What does that mean? Well, the world's in need of reconciliation to God. People without Christ are in a broken relationship where sin is a barrier between them and God and that reconciliation comes through Christ and we're the bearers of the message of Christ.
That's where that reconciliation comes, through Christ. The world needs that and the world also needs reconciliation between others, between individuals as well. Well let's look at what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 beginning at verse 18. It says, "All this is from God, who reconciled us himself through Christ ... reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." Now notice the words being repeated. "God reconciled us through Christ, gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them and he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."
So don't miss this, four times in two verses we see that we have been reconciled to God and now sent as agents of reconciliation in the world. You want to break through that outrage? You want to calm down and represent Jesus well? Then do it by understanding that you represent him as an agent of reconciliation in a world needing reconciling. Got a new life, so we're going to take a new look through some new lenses and acknowledge that part of our role is not simply to represent this view or that view, this argument or that argument, but to represent Jesus and his kingdom well. The reality is, it seems that that's getting harder nowadays.
Some of the people are under the impression that the church has kind of collapsed. Maybe the difficulty has taken us over and now we can't see. We're in the age of outrage. We live in this age of outrage. I want to share a couple of stats here that might be helpful. I wrote a book called Christians in the Age of Outrage. In there we look at some statistics and I've actually been a leading of a research team for the last 10 years. Let me show you a couple of stats. Here's one that talks about the attendance of church. This is the attendance of church, regular church attendance from 1972 to 2016 is the most recent data. It's done by the University of Chicago. It's called the General Social Survey.
Some of us people think the church is ceasing to exist. It's collapsing, it's dying away. Actually kind of goes up and down like this all the way back since the 1930s. That's the most data that we have. Here's what's happening. There's not a great dying away of churches. Now, some churches are dying. I got here yesterday and I drove around the area where I planted a church in Buffalo in the upper west side near Grant and Forest on Holly Street. I drove around and I saw some churches when I was here decades ago, that were struggling. They weren't sure they were going to make it. Now I drove by and that's now condominiums and that's now something else. So churches die. But the percentage of people who indicate that they regularly attend church remains relatively steady.
You may say, "Ed, don't people exaggerate their answers when they talk to pollsters?" They do. There's a technical word for that, we call it lying. Okay, it's not really. It's called the halo effect. But here's what we know. They consistently do that. So we can look over time. Here's the reality. Christianity is not collapsing in our world. Sometimes I use my hand as a way to illustrate this. Take a look at my four fingers. 25% of Americans or so, it's 25 to 30% say that they're not Christians. They say that they're something else, maybe they're the nones. They're none of the above. They say they're really nothing. Maybe they're Muslim or Jewish or ... not Catholic, Catholics are in this section. But maybe they're Muslim or Jewish or Hindu.
And then there's 70 to 75% who say they're Christian. That's Catholic and mainline Protestants, evangelicals, Mormons, and others. I'm not saying all those people are Christians in that category. I don't think 70 to 75% of Americans are Christians the way that we understand it, that they might hear and respond to the good news of the gospel, be born again, and be changed by its power. But really when you look at this, you find out that that's not really what's going on. There's not 75% of Americans deeply committed to the Lord. Actually, there are about 25% of Americans who are deeply committed to their faith. That includes Catholics and Mormons and evangelicals and mainline Protestants and others.
They kind of plan their lives around it. I'm not saying all of them are Christians. I'm not saying all of them are right. But in an article I wrote for USA Today, I tried to explain that there's about 25% of Americans who are non-Christians by definition, by self-definition and about 25% plan their lives around their faith, whatever it may be and that's what I call self-identified convictional Christians. And then there's two other categories. There's some cultural Christians. Those people who say, "I was born in America, therefore I'm a Christian." Of course, standing in a garage doesn't make you a car but still they think that being born in America might make you a Christian.
There's another 25%, four quartiles, another 25% who maybe are loosely connected. You see them at Christmas and Easter. At my church we call them Chreasters. You kind of see them then and they think the church only has two kinds of flowers, Easter lilies and poinsettias. But the reality is, is you have to take these together. Now, if you look back 40, 50 years, these folks kind of stayed together. I grew up Catholic on Long Island, just outside of New York City. We were Irish Catholic. We didn't go to church, so we'd be in one of these other two categories. We were nominally Catholic. But we thought of ourselves as Catholic. The Catholic Church was the church we didn't go to. So it was us. We stuck together.
Actually, let's take a look at a picture that's in Christians in the Age of Outrage that might help understand that. In the past, we sort of all stuck together here. There was a mainstream of culture and it had people who called themselves Christians of different denominations and backgrounds. Yeah, some of them went to church. Actually in your lifetime or in your parents or your great-grandparents' lifetime, the majority of people have not regularly attended church in this country in the 1900s. You have to go back to the 1800s to find the majority attending. So we find there's some convictional people who really plan their lives around it. You would probably be in that category.
But we all kind of stuck together back 30, 40, 50 years ago. Now, but some things began to change. There was a cultural divide between us and non-Christians and secular people and atheists. See, mainstream culture, it's a Judeo-Christian consensus. But then, things began to change. We begin to see the shift in culture to the present and I think as we look to the future, we see where the future ultimately goes. It's coming to a place and a point where the cultural divide is between us and mainstream culture. What you believe, sisters and brothers, is now out of the mainstream. What you believe about morality, what you believe about how Jesus is the only way, these things are now out of the cultural mainstream. It's more of a secular consensus. That's mainstream culture.
Now, the outrage goes across the divide. I want you to hear this. First, keep Christianity weird. Don't try to make it fit in. I mean it's really a strange idea that in the back woods of the Roman Empire in a place no one ever heard of called Bethlehem, God the son is born Jesus the Christ. It's really a strange idea that he would live a sinless life on this earth, that he would die and he'd be crucified on a cross and he'd be buried, he'd be raised again on the third day. That's a really strange idea on the edge of nowhere in an insignificant little nation and then think of this. We think he's going to come back riding on a white horse with a flaming sword coming out of his mouth. Keep it weird, it already is.
And it's out of mainstream culture. So what does that mean for us? That means we have to represent Jesus and his kingdom well. It wasn't that long ago that these ideas were applied a little differently as culture changed. Let's talk about this. So number one, we get a new perspective. Number two, sent on a mission of reconciliation. Number three, representing Jesus and his kingdom. It says this in 2 Corinthians 5:20: "Therefore," so it's tying it together. "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors." You, you, you, you. We're Christ's ambassadors in Cheektowaga, in Lockport. We're Christ's ambassadors in CrossPoint. We're Christ's ambassadors anywhere where we name the name of Jesus.
Now, Paul's talking about himself and the group of missionaries he's with, but it applies to us. "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors. As though God were making his appeal through us, we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God." Fifth time the word reconciled is used in three verses. Why? Because now we're ambassadors for the kingdom. Think about Matthew 6:33. It says: "Seek first the kingdom." Seek his kingdom and his righteousness. All these things will be given to you as well. Focus on representing the king and his kingdom and he'll take care of the rest. Now, that's not always easy. You see, the word ambassador is only used twice in our English Bible. Once in 2 Corinthians and the other place in Ephesians.
Paul writes this. He says: "Pray. Pray also for me that wherever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly as I should." You see, we're representing Jesus and sometimes that's hard. Paul was actually an ambassador. He was an ambassador in chains. He was chained to a wall continuing to share the good news of the gospel. What are we to do? We're to represent Jesus and his kingdom well, regardless of the circumstances. That's not always easy.
I remember when I came and moved to Buffalo. It was 1988. We moved into the city of Buffalo to plant a church there. It was in the middle of a difficult time for the city. It was in the middle of what would later be called the crack epidemic. People were moving out of the city rapidly. I remember Buffalo mayor, Jimmy ... remember Six Pack Jimmy. It wasn't for his abs, I assure you. He said to me, he called me Eddie for some reason. No one ever called me Eddie in my entire life. He said, "Pastor Eddie, what are you doing moving into the city when everyone else is evacuating the city?" I said, "Mayor, God's called us there." We went and planted a church. I gotta tell you, it wasn't always easy.
We didn't have the money to do ... I got a job and I was blowing insulation and rehabbing houses for winterizing and maybe during that time I, if you lived in the city of Buffalo, I might have done your house. But we worked and we planted this church. Sometimes it went well and sometimes it was hard. A lot of times it was hard. And in doing so, we were seeking to see the gospel advance and sometimes we got pushed back as well. But we were there to represent Jesus and his kingdom well. You see, the kingdom's already here, but sometimes it feels the world pushes back, doesn't it?
We see that because we have to understand theologically that the kingdom has come. It is already here. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is here." The kingdom came when the king showed up. The kingdom of God is here. If you're a Christian, you've been transferred, Colossians says, from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved son. As a follower of Jesus, you are a kingdom citizen and ambassador. The kingdom has broken into the world. You heard Pastor Jerry talk about kingdom partners. We are at work in the world as kingdom citizens. But it sure doesn't seem like everything's right yet.
You know it's just a few months from now, we'll be reading verses like Isaiah Chapter 9. It's not on your screen, but you'll recognize it. "For unto us a child will be born. For unto us a son will be given." You'll say, "Yes, we know who that is. It's in Isaiah in the Old Testament." But we'll say that's a prophecy. And then it'll say in the next line, "And the government will be on his shoulders." I don't know about you, but I actually don't think the government is fully submitted to the lordship of Christ right now. You may have a higher view of that than I do. But I think there's a lot of brokenness and division even in our government.
Though Jesus has come, "Unto us a child is born," he has come. He's born. He was crucified. God raised him from the dead. The kingdom is here. It's already here. But we still pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Because the kingdom's still fully to come. It's already, but not yet. Let me use a historical example to explain. Just try to picture this. All of our campuses, I want you to raise your hands in just a moment. Here's the question. How many of you know, you don't have to shout it out, but how many of you know what happened historically on June 6, 1944? Would you raise your hand and raise it up high? Say, I know what happened. Hold them high. I know what happened on June 6, 1944. Okay.
Now I want you to raise your hand if you know what happened on May 7th, related to that, 1945. Raise your hand. Lot of fewer hands go up, maybe about a third of them. Now why do we know one and not the other? Well, June 6, 1944 is D-Day. On D-Day, something significant happened and the Allies were trying to break into the continent of Europe knowing that if they could, the war would be won. Everybody knew it. News reporters kept it a secret. The Allies planned to try to keep it in secret because if Nazis and Hitler could find out where they were going to do this assault, they could block them and if they could stop this landing, then probably they could hold Europe, weakened as they were, they could hold Europe and to this day, we'd be talking about Europe in a very, very different way.
That day on June 6, 1944, the amphibious landing of 160,000 soldiers on the beaches of Normandy along with 24,000 paratroopers who kind of floated down in the midst of foggy darkness and tracer fire began and put the Allies in the first time within range of the German homeland. For the first time, after months of planning and secrecy, they knew that if they could successfully get this beachhead ... That's what they call it when you get this landing area. If they could get this beachhead, if D-Day worked, the war was won. You could see the headlines all over the paper, Buffalo News and beyond, just with exploding filled with joy that D-Day worked. The end of the war has begun. On that day, the war was won.
But it wasn't yet done. Matter of fact, it went on for almost a full year. Matter of fact, more people died between D-Day and May 7, 1945 in Europe than in any other time in the war. It came across France and then ultimately into Germany. Then there was the Battle of the Bulge where the Germans, the Nazis pushed back and then it continued on across the Rhine. But knowing they were liberating village and city and town after village and city and town, they eventually got to Berlin. On May 7, 1945 a week after Hitler took his own life, it was declared V-E Day, Victory in Europe Day.
See, I don't want you to miss this because in D Day, the war was won. But on V-E Day, the war was done and we live in a time that on the cross Jesus has said, "It is finished." Matter of fact, I've read the end of the book, Jesus wins. The war has been won, but here on this place, it's not yet done. It's all ready, but not yet. We live between the times, between the Good Friday when Jesus says, "It is finished," and the Easter Sunday where we see his resurrection that validates his victory. There's a famous 20th century sermon framed this context well by declaring, "It's Friday, but Sunday's coming."
It was well-known more in African American context and the preacher would be preaching in the midst of oppression or injustice and would say, "It's Friday and they won't let us vote. It's Friday and they won't let us keep our jobs. It's Friday and they treat us this way. But Sunday's a coming and the king," said the preacher, I won't try to duplicate. But it would grow. "It's Friday. It's Friday, but Sunday's a coming." And we live between the Friday of kingdom conquest and the Sunday of kingdom coronation. It's Saturday right here on planet Earth. Saturday's a workday and we work here as agents to represent Jesus and his kingdom well.
So what do we need to do? Well, we need to again look at the world. We've got a new life. We've got this new look. We're going to look through new lenses. Now we're here to be agents of representation, ambassadors ... agents of reconciliation, ambassadors of the kingdom. You want to break through the outrage and calm down? Represent Jesus and his kingdom well. Finally, you know what it means when a guest speaker say that? Absolutely nothing. What are you going to do if it's the last service of the day?
Number four in our outline. We've gone through them. Number one, we get a new perspective. Don't miss it. We got a new life, got a new look, new lenses through which we see the world. But those lenses need adjusting as we find ourselves often easily drawn into the outrage of the world. Calm down. Adjust your lenses. Sent on a mission of reconciliation, we're sharing the good news of the gospel with people who don't know Christ, so lives might be changed. Sent on a mission of reconciliation, bringing people together as agents of reconciliation. Number three, representing Jesus and his kingdom as ambassadors in the world. And finally, because of the cross, because of the cross ...
It's interesting, Billy Graham recently died, I hold the Billy Graham Chair at Wheaton College where he attended as a student many years ago. He was 70 when he was a college student. He was 99 when he died just earlier this year. While I was there, I was at the funeral. At the funeral, a New York Times reporter came up to me and she asked me, "Dr. Stetzer, who do you think is the next Billy Graham?" It's easy to go through your mind and try to think of somebody. But there's really nobody who embodies that because Billy Graham was a unique figure in time and history.
What I explained to her, the reporter, was something that happened to us the day we heard that Billy Graham died. We were actually going to Florida to speak at a meeting. Donna, my wife, was coming with me. We dialed up Uber and called our Uber. She came and our Uber driver was named Jane. We got in the car with Jane and we noticed that she had kind of a Bible, like a Gideon would put out a Bible somewhere. We got in the car. Donna and I kind of looked at each other and smiled. We started driving and Jane started an intentional conversation with us. "Tell me a little about yourselves." We started talking. We were from [inaudible 00:36:55] New York, planted a church in Buffalo.
Actually, didn't say planted a church in Buffalo yet. Grew up in New York, live here now. She said, "Oh really?" She starts to ask us questions about family. We say we got kids. Then she moves into some kind of spiritual questions. "Do you guys like any spiritual interests in your life or anything of that sort?" I'm smiling at Donna and she's smiling to me, nudging me like you should tell her. And then Jane's like, "Have you ever considered ..." and she starts going into sharing the gospel with me. Finally I just had to tell her. So I tell her. I said, "Jane, I want you to know I'm the Billy Graham Chair at Wheaton College." She's like, "Praise the Lord." She almost crashes. Don't do that. Bad rating. Uber.
We kind of rejoiced. I actually said to her, "Jane, can I do something right now? You clearly were going to share the gospel with us." She says, "Oh yes. This is why I do Uber in my free time, so I can share the gospel with people." So I say, "Jane, can I record an interview with you?" If you Google Jane the Uber driver, you can find this article. It ended up going all over the world. Who's the next Billy Graham? I said to that reporter, "Jane the Uber driver." The reporter looked at me like, "What?" You see, the next Billy Graham is not somebody famous. It's somebody normal who's acknowledged that they're representing Jesus and the kingdom. They're engaging culture, maybe like Billy Graham did with that winsome, gracious way that he learned over time.
They're ambassadors for Christ because they've been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. So the next Billy Graham is you and your plumber and your lawyer and your banker and the person at the restaurant who names the name of Jesus. But why? What's the motivation? That's what Paul gets at here in number four. Let's take a look. It says this. It says: "God made him who had no sin." Now I'm putting that together intentionally and pronouncing it like that. That's Jesus, those five words, him who had no sin. God made Jesus to be sin. Don't miss that. When Jesus died on the cross, he didn't just die for your sin, he became your sin. He was made sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. So that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.
When Jesus died on the cross for your sin and in your place, he took the penalty. He took the wrath. He took that, but he took that by becoming that sin. As he's hanging on the cross, he cries out, "Eli Eli. My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?" At that moment, he became your sin. Every sin as a follower of Jesus that you have committed was then laid on and in him. There's a theological word for that. It's called imputation. Would you say that with me? Let's say it together. Imputation. One more time like you mean it. Imputation. Because I think you should learn some theological words now and then. We all need that. If you can learn to order coffee at Starbucks, you can learn some theological words now and then.
Imputation is key. Because the doctrine of imputation that's in this verse builds on other realities. You see, I'm a sinner. You're a sinner. We're sinners by nature and by choice because we have inherited, because a sin nature has been imputed to us from our ancestors. So I don't have to teach my kids to do wrong. I have to teach them to do right because sin has been imputed to me. But now according to this verse, he made the one who did not know to be sin for us. My sin and your sin has been imputed to Jesus. In the first century, it's a banking word. It's like deposited. Your sin has been deposited in Jesus who then dies, takes victory over it, and that victory is made evident when God raises him from the dead on the third day.
And because God raises him from the dead on the third day, let's put verse 21 back up for just a moment because he raises him from the dead on the third day, don't miss this, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. His righteousness has been imputed to you. As a follower of Jesus in Cheektowaga, Lockport, CrossPoint, wherever you're watching, if you're a follower of Jesus, when God looks on you he looks through a set of lenses too and those lenses are the lenses of Christ's death and his righteousness now given to you. When Paul writes these things, it almost doesn't seem to fit the rest, does it? But it does. Here's where it does.
It does because the rest of the verse is about seeing others differently. We got a new life, a new look, new lenses through which to see the world. We gotta adjust them because sometimes we get caught up in the ways of the world. So it does make sense. But then he says to represent him to others as agents of reconciliation. Okay, that's related to other people. And then it says to be an ambassador. That's related to other people. But here's where it's all rooted. It all comes back to this. Look at Isaiah chapter 53 verse 6. It says: "All we like sheep have gone astray. We've turned everyone to his own way and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
When you get this, when you get that Jesus who knew what sin looked like, who saw the stench and the effect of sin on the world as it brought injustice and brokenness and sin and immorality, he walked this earth sinless but he knew what it looked like. He knew what was coming on the cross, so he sweat blood in the garden saying, "Lord, if this cup could pass from me, yet not my will but yours be done." And then on the cross when he cries out, "My God. My God." That moment is the motivation for you to get a new perspective. Sent on a mission of reconciliation representing Jesus and his kingdom because of the cross.
So my encouragement to you is simple. People are being discipled by their cable news network and by their friends who are posting angry things online. That's not what Jesus has called us to do. He's called us to get a new perspective. You got a new life. You got a new look. You gotta adjust those lenses. To be sent on a mission of reconciliation, build bridges with people who don't know Christ. Jane the Uber driver and you are the next Billy Graham or let's take it even more than that. You're the next ambassador. So seek to represent Jesus and his kingdom in your community and other communities through giving and going and more.
But do so because of what Jesus has done on the cross for your sin and in your place. That's the motivation that changes everything. Want to calm down in an outraged world? I love that your church would engage even in this series. Want to calm down in an outraged world? Represent Jesus and his kingdom well. About 30 years again, a young church planter, 21 at the time, came to Buffalo, New York. A pastor named James Andrews took him under his arm and he said to him, "Listen. This church planting thing, I did it a while ago. I'll help you as I can." He met with me from time to time. He prayed with me. I attended this church once, not a lot.
It was a ways from where I lived in the city. Actually, your church may not know this. Your church financially supported our little church plant back about 30 years ago and we're so thankful for that. When I left Buffalo, by the way, the Buffalo Bills had won. I lived here six years and the Bills were in the Super Bowl four times in the six years I was here. I didn't really follow it after that. Are they still the reigning, continuing to go to the Super Bowl and ... no?
Your church blessed me and I'm thankful for it. So I have the privilege to stand before you and say thank you, but let me also say thank you and do what the writer of Hebrews said, "Provoke you to love in good deeds." Keep planting churches. Keep engaging in mission and evangelism so every man and woman and boy and girl hears the good news of the gospel. But personally, get that new perspective. Live on a mission of reconciliation representing Jesus and his kingdom because of the cross. Would you pray with me?
Father, thank you for what you've done through this church over the decades. Thank you for Pastor Jerry, what you're doing now and the leaders and pastors here. Father, for all of us, I pray that we might indeed hear these words and put them into practice. The kingdom's come, but it's still not yet. Lord, in that meanwhile, we want to live as agents of reconciliation and ambassadors for the kingdom. Father, I believe there are people here, that all of our campuses are watching with us online who need to adjust the lenses by which they see people on social media, adjust the lenses by which they see people who disagree with them. And instead, live the way of Jesus, get a new look, and adjust those lenses.
I pray you might speak to those to whom you're convicting, you might remind all of us to live in light of the fact that our sin has been imputed to Jesus and his righteousness has been imputed to us. In Jesus' name and for his sake we pray, amen. And amen.